In pursuit of purslane


For years, I've been reading about purslane, that plump, glossy-leaved, so-called weed that's supposed to be delicious in salads. Last night, I pulled some out of my garden, washed it, chopped it up (stems and all) and tossed it with tomatoes, avocado, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Mmm, mmm, weeds!

An online search just now yielded many recipes for purslane, which has healthy Omega-3 oils and a lot of vitamins (D and B) and minerals (calcium and iron). It's crunchy, too, with a lemony zing to it. Who knew it was so delicious?

A lot of folks around the world and increasingly close to home, that's who. Many varieties are now cultivated - more than 40 - and they're used in everything from potato salad to tabbouleh. (Try it on a burger!) Wild or cultivated, it's a sweet addition to lots of things.

Rosalind Creasy. in her 2010 book Edible Landscaping, includes purslane - official name Portulaca oleracea - on her "big list of edible plants." She says it's a warm-season annual that grows in full sun or partial shade (as if it confines itself to those places!). A succulent, which we might have guessed, it can be planted in an annual bed, vegetable garden or container, she said. (And all these years we've been ripping it out.)

Creasy, considered a pioneer in the edible landscape movement, suggests adding leaves only - no stems - to salads and cooking the "mature greens" like spinach. I beg to differ. The stems are thick and juicy. a little like mache with more oomph. I tossed them all in there.

Tonight I may go foraging in the garden - not for tomatoes this time, although a big red one would make my day, but for my new - actually, quite old - discovery. Too bad I won't get home till after dark. Yes, neighbors, that'll be me out there, with my flashlight, hunting down my next meal.